11 Feb 2014

Pork sector assurance

3:57 pm on 11 February 2014

The sale and closure of a Kiwi bacon and Huttons factory in Hamilton is not an indication of any deeper problems in the port sector, the Pork Industry board says.

Plant owner Goodman Fielder has told its 125 staff at the factory they will lose their jobs at the end of March.

This is because the Kiwi bacon and Huttons brands have been sold to Heller's, which has no use for the plant.

New Zealand Pork chairman Ian Carter said the job losses were unfortunate but that Heller's intended to retain the Kiwi bacon and Huttons brands. However, it was not interested in the plant.

"Obviously nobody wants to see people lose employment and that sort of thing, and that's the casualties of continual restructuring of these big corporates, but unfortunately that's the outcome," Mr Carter said.

"One would like to think that there's an opportunity for these people, if they wish, to relocate. There's obviously growth in the Heller's production base and there'll be a requirement for a level of employment there."

Mr Carter said demand for New Zealand produced pork as static, and that production of locally produced pigs had eased slightly due to the recent move to allow pork to be imported, and the dollar being strong for a sustained period of time.

New Zealand pork is not exported but about 800 tonnes of pig meat a week is imported, accounting for 48 percent of the pork consumed in New Zealand.

"So domestically there's always pressure on our local production and hence the reason that we're pretty strong around recognising that 100 Percent New Zealand brand and trying to generate loyalty from our customers for what that brand stands for - better welfare standards, better production bases, guaranteed supply chain credibility and freshness," he said.

Goodman Fielder has said workers will receive their full redundancy packages and have access to a careers workshop.